Hand Cannon

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Yes, folks, that's a real gun. .600 caliber, in fact.
"You see the size of that gun he fired at us? It was bigger than him."
Jules, Pulp Fiction

It's big. It's bulky. It's heavy, impractical, and loud. It looks really, really cool. Sometimes, it has a nickel finish, or better yet, gold. It may even have a name. It's the Hand Cannon.

Which type of gun fills this role varies by time period. Back in The Seventies, it was a .357 or .44 Magnum revolver, like the Colt Python. and the Smith & Wesson Model 29. Eventually, automatics firing the same rounds were introduced. The modern successor to the crown of most ridiculously oversized handgun is the Israeli Military Industries Desert Eagle in .50 Action Express. Bigger and more powerful handguns exist (like the Automag V), but they don't have the same media presence and generally look much less cool. And if bullets just don't cut it, they can always use a Sawed-Off Shotgun or the M79 grenade launcher, which can be (clumsily) fired one-handed.

Often, the character's hands are barely big enough to support the weapon. In particularly Egregious cases they're fired one-handed or even dual-wielded—try this in Real Life and you'll end up with a broken wrist/nose and a bullet going nowhere near where it's supposed to.

The character with the giant handgun is sometimes superhuman, supernatural or cybernetically enhanced in order to compensate for the weapon's weight and recoil.

Often, in Video Games, the Desert Eagle is used as a symbol of just how badass the military is, never minding the fact that a huge fucking gun like a Desert Eagle would never be used by any unit, Special Ops or otherwise, because they're just too damn heavy and loud (not to mention only having a 7 shot magazine). In series where the heroes battle supernatural or cybernetically enhanced beings, weapons like these may well be necessary to take down their Made of Iron/Nigh Invulnerable enemies, which conventional weapons just aren't enough for. Guns that shoot Frickin' Laser Beams and other such energy weapons are rarely used in this trope, as Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better works well... better here.

You know you're dealing with either this or a Big Freaking Gun if a character says something along the lines of "Wow, that's a really big gun." A stock gag is that the gunman is Compensating for Something.

A subtrope of Bigger Is Better. Differs from Big Freaking Gun in that the Hand Cannon is large for a handgun, while the Big Freaking Gun is simply large. See also: Small Girl, Big Gun. Not to be confused with Arm Cannon, which is literally a cannon on the arm.

Examples of Hand Cannon include:

Anime and Manga

  • The vampire Alucard in Hellsing: he carries an awesomely huge pistol (39 cm/16" long, 6 kg unloaded) stylized after an old-fashioned Colt that can fire the mighty .454 Casull cartridge (which is only slightly smaller than a AA battery); in fact, this ammo gives the gun its common name, "The Casull". Later on he is given another, bigger pistol (though it's more like a huge block of metal with a trigger) called "The Jackal" (also 39 cm/16" long, 16 kg unloaded, 13mm Mercury core rounds with blessed Macedonian silver jackets), which he uses together with the first one akimbo-style. Both guns are ridiculously heavy for their size. For comparison, the US Army's standard-issue platoon machine gun, the M240B, weighs in at 12 kg. Neither are weapons any man could hope to wield, the former for its kickback and the latter for its insane weight, but "It was never meant for a man." The latter is also so heavy because it has a bomb inside it.
  • Human alien Vash the Stampede in Trigun. His sidearm is a Mateba Model 6 Unica semi-auto revolver (chambered in .45 Long Colt, a slightly shorter predecessor of the .454 Casull round), but it contains a piece of Applied Phlebotinum that allows it to merge with his arm and become the Angel Arm, a beam weapon of monstrous destructive power. His Evil Twin Knives (who designed and built the gun in question) has an identical example (which can also form the Angel Arm), except his is black while Vash's is silver ("Blue" and "Nickel" respectively in gun-talk).
    • Wolfwood wields a huge cross that doubles as a gun after a point in the series. Also in the Anime there's Chapel the Evergreen who has a similar one but splits into two. However, it is "just" a Big Freaking Gun, not a Hand Cannon, as it is not a handgun.
  • In the anime OVA Angel Cop, one character totes around a gigantic gun that's actually intended for use by a character in a strength-augmenting suit of armor. She's warned that firing it too often will eventually destroy every muscle in her arms.
  • The exact same thing occurs in the OVA Burn Up W
  • Patlabor: Revolvers the size of Volkswagens! Mind you though, they are for Humongous Mecha.
  • Black Lagoon has its own vicious way with this trope using a Giant Mook neo-Nazi who claims that only a man of his gigantic proportions can handle his gold-plated Luger chambered for .454 Casull. Revy guns him down while he's still ranting about the capabilities of his weapon. She then points out (while sitting on his chest, which is still bleeding from her shooting him) that having a weapon that huge isn't even necessary, because all a bullet needs to do is hit the target to kill it. She proves her point by shooting him in the face at point blank range with her 9mm handgun.
    • Especially amusing since Revy was out at the time and spent his rant calmly reloading.
    • Black Lagoon also has plenty of other characters (most of them villains) with oversized weapons, including Yolanda, the old nun from the Church of Violence who fires a gold-plated .50 AE Desert Eagle one handed; Gretel, a small girl and one of a pair of truly Creepy Twins, who fires a BAR from the hip; and even a Terminator 2-style minigun-wielder.
  • Corporal Randel Oland from Pumpkin Scissors and his 13mm armor-piercing hand-gun (the "Door Knocker") - which is used by special infantry to go up against tanks.
  • Both Leon and Priss carry Hand Cannons in Bubblegum Crisis.
    • Leon especialy has a futuristic break-top style revolver called the "Earth Shaker" chambered in .600 Nitro Express with only three chambers in the cylinder. Considering that he's a member of a special police force which has to fight killer cyborgs who can shrug off small arms fire with ease, it's kind of understandable that he would carry something with more punch with him.
  • Trinity Blood has a couple of examples of this, the most notable of which are Tres' twin M13 Jerichos.
  • In One Piece, Basco Shot uses a large Flintlock on the Blackbeard Pirates' assault on Whitebeard. Considering that Shot has to be around 22 feet tall, that's got to be one big gun.
  • David from Blood+ carries a huge Smith & Wesson Model 500 revolver (the very one mentioned in the top page quote), which he can imperceptibly hide in the folds of his jacket. Somewhat justified, in that he spends most of his time shooting it at Chiropterans, large and powerful quasi-vampiric monsters. (It never seemed to do much good, though). It's odd considering David comes right out and says that guns are useless against the monsters in the second episode.
      • Better to die on your feet shooting than unarmed and cowering. I suppose if you found the human before it transformed, it might be good in stopping them right then and there.
  • Mana Tatsumiya in Mahou Sensei Negima normally dual-wields Desert Eagles. They may or may not be air gun replicas, but can certainly fire real bullets, or at least Depleted Phlebotinum Shells. Keep in mind that firing a Desert Eagle in a single hand could potentially break the user's arm through recoil.
    • Contrary to popular belief, large-caliber handguns actually have less recoil than smaller-caliber ones, due to increased mass which helps compensate for the force and energy of the bullet leaving the gun, and due to the smoothness of the Desert Eagle's action in particular, it wouldn't kick nearly hard enough to break someone's arm.
  • Killy's Gravity Beam Emitter in Tsutomu Nihei's Blame better fits into a Wave Motion Gun category, both due to its truly immense firepower and enormous recoil, but it's still a pistol. And it isn't even all that big.
  • Blazer Mode of Teana's Cross Mirage, which was introduced in StrikerS Sound Stage X of Lyrical Nanoha. Cross Mirage's high-powered shooting form, not only is it larger than the gun's default mode, but it can also fire Starlight Breaker.
  • Kurausorasu from Iono the Fanatics is another Desert Eagle dual-wielder. The fact that she can do that so easily was explicitly mentioned to be a sign of her possessing Super Strength.
  • Wicked City‍'‍s protagonist Taki wields a revolver with an undisclosed modification specifically for demon hunting. The resulting force from every shot in the entire film throws him into walls, and unlike some animes the shots always have devastating results.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, the spent casings from the Eva-sized handguns and assault rifles are big enough to crush cars.
    • Not that the damn things are ever actually useful. Except for Matariel.
  • A character in Guyver has a pistol which has been "modified" so that it can damage Zoanoids, who are normally Immune to Bullets—it has a very large stock and its bullets are high-calibre, armour-piercing and explosive.
    • They're so huge the gun can only hold three of them at once.
  • The Arcane Colt Custom in Witch Hunter demonstrates the realistic effect a weapon like this would have; After firing it only once, the main character's arm is broken by the recoil.
  • Liz and Patti's 'Death Eagle .42' forms in Soul Eater, being massive versions of their usual Weapon forms. Kid uses one in each hand to shoot down Mosquito's bats.
  • Kurohime features the title character's weapon, Senryuu (which grows even bigger as the series continues, and can transform into a gatling revolver, a sniper rifle, a shotgun/cannon, and something vaguely semblant of a minigun) and Onimaru's gun.
  • In Ghost in the Shell Togusa uses a truly impressive looking .44 magnum auto-revolver. But he's frequently told to finally get rid of this flimsy thing and upgrade to something with real firepower.
  • Laputa: Castle in the Sky has something akin to this, an the one-shot weapons that Dola's pirate gang uses seem to also be capable of loading stink bombs as well as the normal bullet/explosive rounds. Near the end, the Big Bad actually calls the one Patsu carries a "cannon you can hardly lift".
  • Parodied (and what isn't?) in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, where Mikuru is made to Dual Wield airsoft Desert Eagles for the student film. In her hands the guns are comically oversized, which is only made worse by the absurd extended barrels.
  • Kiritsugu Emiya from Fate/Zero favours a Thompson Contender chambered for rifle cartridges as his main weapon. He furthermore uses custom-made bullets (containing his own ground-up bones) that disturb magic.
    • To say "disturb" magic is to massively understate it, whatever the bullets hit is severed and then tied together into a knot, essentially, presumably on a very small scale, if it hit a person, the surrounding area would have all the muscles, nerves, and veins severed and knotted, making them useless and causing fatal bleeding. If it hits an expression of magic, it cuts apart the magic circuits of the caster of the spell, ties them together, and causes the mana in the person to explode out of them.

Comic Books

  • Sam and Max: Sam's trusty revolver, which is so big the barrel actually bends from its own weight!
  • In Mike Mignola's Hellboy series, the title character packs the Samaritan; a 20mm (.79") hand-cannon. However, he is a superhumanly strong demon who fights supernatural menaces. Usually the gun isn't much use anyway, and Hellboy himself admits that he's a lousy shot with it. Which is why he uses Depleted Phlebotinum Shells.
    • Well, the Depleted Phlebotinum Shells are kind of a necessity no matter how crappy a shot he is; if he's firing the thing at all, he's probably up against something that's immune to fists.
    • He's a lousy shot because his right hand is a huge stone thing so he has to shoot with his left. And he's not naturally a lefty. Good thing his Right Hand of Doom makes for a formidable bludgeon...
  • In the The Warlord comics, Travis Morgan carries a .44 AutoMag which was certainly never a standard issue sidearm for USAF officers. It also qualifies as an instance of Rare Guns.
  • Some of these show up in Preacher: .45 revolvers, .50 pistols, and one piece the Big Bad maniacally refers to as "Doomcock". The Saint Of Killers also wields a pair of Walker Colt revolvers, which pack .44 ball and was arguably the most powerful handgun until magnum revolvers appeared in the 20th century. More specifically, they're a pair of Walker Colts forged from what used to be the Angel of Death's sword which makes them Weapons of Mass Destruction. Revolvers which can kill God.
  • When Nick Fury makes his return to the mainstream Marvel Universe during the Skrull invasion of New York in Secret Invasion, he does so wielding a gun that's about as big as he is.
  • In Jon Sable Freelance, one of Sable's preferred weapons is a chrome .357 Magnum pepperbox. As a prototype that never made it into production, it also counts as an instance of Rare Guns.
  • Mr. Shlubb and Mr. Klump, two loquacious hitmen in the Sin City series, use RoboCop's Auto-9 machine-pistol (it's actually the same prop, even). Hartigan uses it akimbo with another gun to blow them both away in That Yellow Bastard.
  • Lobo uses pretty much nothing but Hand Cannons or Big Freaking Guns.
  • Marvel Comics' Punisher 2099 uses as his main weapon the circa-2015 manufactured Smith & Wesson .54 Magnum full-automatic revolver. It's belt-fed and can fire 6 rounds a second (360 a minute). One character later observes that this weapon usually leaves the Punisher's victims with a "hole in the chest...and a missing back."
  • In one issue of ABC Warriors, workcrew on a massive terraforming operation on Mars have been going missing. The woman in charge carries a massive hand cannon with three chambers, but only three rounds. It is capable of killing anything it hits. She is eventually killed by hundreds of Martian animals after using up her three rounds.
  • In Detective Comics #841, the Mad Hatter uses a revolver that is actually fairly normal... if you don't take into account its four foot long barrel; It's easily mistaken for a walking cane.
  • In what seems to be a Shout-Out to the Johnny Dangerously reference below, a character in the very NSFW Lann by Frank Thorne says about his favored machine pistol, "This is not a gun. It's a poem. An ode to death. It shoots through schools -- of sharks!"
  • Early in Howard Chaykin's American Flagg!, an ad is seen for the ".666 Magrum" (not Magnum, for some reason) semi-automatic pistol. This later appears to be title character Reuben Flagg's preferred sidearm.


  • Deckard's gun from Blade Runner. Is it a blaster? Naw, but there is nothing like a gun that puts a four foot hole in... well anything.
  • Colonel Douglas Mortimer in the Western For a Few Dollars More wields a Buntline Special that may be cumbersome on the draw, but can pack one hell of a punch with deadly accuracy.
  • In Star Wars, Han Solo's pistol is the Energy Weapon equivalent - a handgun many times larger than holdout hand blasters and with power closer to blaster rifles. It only gets a few shots per power pack, but it only needs to hit once, being able to blow torso-sized chunks out of concrete walls or instantly incinerating Greedo before he could ever fire a single shot.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, the midget pirate is seen firing a very large hand cannon that blasts him back out of the frame when Barbossa's meeting with Sao Feng is interrupted by the East India Trading Company.
  • RoboCop in his movies and TV series used a huge machine pistol. It was a Beretta 93R with some futuristic doodads including an extended barrel and slide assembly with ostentatious compensator. It spews flames each time it's fired, and has an implausibly large ammunition supply. Overlaps with More Dakka.
  • Inverted by the Noisy Cricket in Men in Black: a tiny, unseemly weapon resembling a hypodermic needle with a handle, pauses momentarily and chirps like a cricket when you pull the trigger, and then promptly annihilates whatever it was pointed at and knocks you flat on your butt. The recoil usually hurls Agent J about fifteen feet, no matter how he tries to brace himself; in the TV series, he eventually acquired what amounted to a silencer for it, which made the blast more manageable and stifled the recoil.
  • Dirty Harry and his famous .44 Magnum revolver.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger's character in the movie Red Heat wasn't impressed by the .44 Magnum he was loaned, when his personal gun (a hand cannon in its own right) was confiscated.
    • The Hand Cannon in question was a customised Desert Eagle, presented as the soviet "Podbyrin 9.2 mm". Arnold's character describes it as "the most powerful handgun in the world".
  • The 1989 Batman movie has The Joker pulling out a revolver with a telescopic 36-inch barrel... out of his pants... which he uses to shoot down the Batwing in one shot. Make of that what you will.
  • In the Prohibition-era gangster parody Johnny Dangerously, Danny Vermin shows off his .88 Magnum. "It shoots through schools."
  • In Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, the Big Bad (Played by Demi Moore) uses two golden Desert Eagles.
  • Snatch. Bullet Tooth Tony and his "Desert Eagle. Point five-o."
  • At one point in Hard Boiled, Mad Dog, The Dragon, uses a Thompson/Center Contender, a single-shot pistol that uses rifle bullets, and which he's apparently modified to spit the spent cartridges out in slow-mo, to fight Tequila and Alan. This pistol appears to be using a .30-06 barrel.
  • In the Woo-directed Van Damme flick Hard Target the main villain Fouchon (played by Lance Henriksen) also favored a Thompson single-shot pistol (in .45-70 Gov't!) as his main firearm.
  • Hungarian movie Argo features a character called Psycho carrying a two-foot-long revolver. With Disney characters carved on it. Yes, like Mickey Mouse.
  • In Pulp Fiction, Jules and Vincent get shot at by a guy with a Hand Cannon, but every shot misses. "Did you see that gun he fired at us? It was bigger than him."
  • A Western example from True Grit:

Rooster Cogburn: Why, by God, girl, that's a Colt's Dragoon! You're no bigger than a corn nubbin, what're you doing with all this pistol?
Mattie Ross: It belonged to my father, he carried it bravely in the war, and I intend to kill Tom Chaney with it if the law fails to do so.
Rooster Cogburn: Well, this'll sure get the job done if you can find a fence post to rest it on while you take aim.

    • The Cowboys had John Wayne telling the boys he had for cowhands to put their guns in a wagon. Cue the smallest boy extracting the largest gun from his belt.
  • The opening scene of Desperado has El Mariachi's buddy spin a story of how he cleared a bar with a sawed-off and a de-stocked Armsel Protecta shotgun, which manage to throw your average Mexican about ten feet in the air with one shot:

Buscemi: The stranger... he bolts out of his bar-stool like you wouldn't believe, he grabs his case and he dives right in the middle of the room with it! Just dives right in! Now, I don't know what he does on that floor, but he's up in two shakes, his suitcase is wide open, and he's pulled God knows what out of it, but it's the biggest hand cannon I've ever fucking seen!

John Goodman: You got the bastards of bastards, .357. A guaranteed head removal. That's... that's a sweetie. You got your standard-size .45, super-sized. That's a fucking Hungry Man right there. And you got the king of mayhem. Half-cannon. Sword of justice. Take this fucker to the holy land, start your own crusade. Any one of these is bound to make you feel better of what's bothering you.

  • In Alien Nation, James Caan's character upgrades from his police-issue sidearm to a Freedom Arms Model 83, a 5-round .454 Casull revolver, in order to combat the Newcomer gang that killed his partner. At the time the film was made (1988), this was the most powerful handgun/cartridge commercially available.
  • Bohdi (played by Patrick Swaze) also uses the .454 Casull in Point Break.
  • Paul Kersey's friend "Wildey" from Death Wish 3 is the world's most powerful production semi-automatic. The bullet has as much impact energy at 100 yards as the .44 Magnum has at 1 yard. Unlike most examples here, the .475 Wildey Magnum has a relatively manageable recoil.
  • Almost all the major characters in Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man wield a Hand Cannon at some point in the movie, ranging from .44 Magnum Desert Eagles to .454 Casull Rugers.

Marlboro: Man, why in the hell are you carrying a hand cannon like that?
Harley: Hey... I learned to shoot using one of these.
Marlboro: Which might be why you shoot like shit. Harley, nobody learns to shoot using a gun that big.

  • In The Boondock Saints: All Saints Day, the Saints trade in the silenced Berettas from the first film in favor of Desert Eagles.
    • In the original movie, the two trade in two .50-caliber Desert Eagles used by two Russian mob dudes who tried to murder them, along with a pager and a money clip, in order to get their hands on their original arsenal.
  • In Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol!, gun nut Tackleberry gets to take the recruits to the range. By far the most enthusiastic recruit is Mrs. Feldman, an eighty-year-old who is raring to become a badass grandma and bust some criminal heads. She takes a particular liking to Tackleberry, and demands to wrap her hands around his immense, rigid, manly instrument. The recoil blows her across the room, and she promptly declares "Damn, that was fun!"
    • Any scene involving Tackleberry. Particularly this scene from the first movie.
  • Every agent in The Matrix spawns (literally) with a Desert Eagle .44 Magnum in their jacket pocket. (Some are even outfitted with Bottomless Magazines.)
  • I Come in Peace (aka Dark Angel) has an alien pistol that when fired, blows up entire rooms (example, with a car).
  • In Hellboy it is shown that Hellboy's "Samaritan" holds four rounds, each about the size of a thumb.

Hellboy: I'm not a very good shot, but the Samaritan uses really big bullets.

    • In the second movie, he gets an even bigger gun, that apparently uses clockwork to fire, has about sixteen barrels, and fires pairs of flaming shotgun shells. It is called the "Big Baby" and he uses this to destroy a forest god.

Hellboy: You woke up the baby!

  • The toon revolver in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is abnormally large. Possibly because all of its bullets are sentient.
  • Leslie Nielsen briefly wields a ridiculously over-sized Magnum at the end of 2001: A Space Travesty.
  • In Drive Angry John Milton steals a five barreled Hand Cannon from Hell called the Godkiller. It has 3 shots in it and can be used to kill demons.
  • The title character of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans walks around with a massive .44 magnum revolver sticking out of his waistband at all times.
  • Judge Dredd. The Lawgiver II pistol used by Judges, which is also able to switch ammo types by voice command.


  • In The Stainless Steel Rat, a sci-fi action/comedy series by Harry Harrison, James "Slippery Jim" DiGriz (the titular "Stainless Steel Rat") carries a .75 recoilless semiautomatic pistol (usually firing explosive bullets) which, while having been fired repeatedly, has NEVER killed anyone, or even seriously wounded anyone. This is attributed to DiGriz's semi-pacifist beliefs.
  • Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) encounters a lot of people with very large-caliber boltguns. Of the sort that are normally mounted on tanks. Including Amberly in the book where she shows up in her power armor.
    • Notably averted by Cain himself. Although most Commissars carry bolt pistols (the aforementioned full-auto-firing RPG launchers), Cain prefers his trusty old laspistol, the classic pea-shooter of the setting. The trope is in full force on the covers of the books, though, since these depict Cain as he likely appears on propaganda posters throughout the Imperium: either dualwielding boltpistols or combining a boltpistol with a chainsword.
  • In The Executioner series of novels, protagonist Mack Bolan carries a .44 AutoMag, the first automatic pistol to use .44 magnum ammunition. He later switches from that to a Desert Eagle.
  • In Against a Dark Background by Iain M. Banks, protagonist Sharrow has this literally; the model name of her gun is FrintArms HandCannon.
    • Another shows up in the form of a gun much like Killy's from "BLAME!" in the short story collection State of the Art.
  • In the Western novels of J. T. Edson, the preferred handgun of the Ysabel Kid is a Colt Dragoon, nicknamed "the thumb buster" because of its recoil.
  • In the Doc Savage novels, Patricia Savage's signature weapon is an old six-shooter handed down from her grandfather - a Colt Frontier Single Action .44 with the trigger filed off and a fanning spur welded on the hammer, which she carries in her purse.
  • Kurt Austin carries a Bowen revolver, essentially a .357 Magnum Colt Python custom-built to fire the same .50-caliber rounds that the Desert Eagle is famous for. His partner Joe Zavala calls it "Kurt's Cannon" and likes to joke that it shoots railroad spikes.
  • Roland's revolvers in The Dark Tower series are described as being very, very large .45 Colt Single Action Armies of an incredibly antique vintage, with yellowed sandalwood grips. It's also alluded to that they were forged from the metal of Excalibur.
  • Burke from Andrew Vachss's books favours large-calibre handguns for quick manstopping.
  • Brian Mallory, the protagonist's brother from The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, carries a Russian pistol that most definitely qualifies as a Hand Cannon (and is later called that). It was picked from a dead Tzarist officer in Crimea, "isn't exactly regulation", "queer-looking", and presumably shoots something not unlike artillery canister shells. Think giant razor-buckshot rounds, "as thick as a copper's baton". It is single-shot, insanely loud (it even causes friendlies to lose their bearing for a minute) and can literally gib six people at once with a well-placed shot. In other words, a flare gun from Hell.
  • Honor Harrington has her trademark weapon, a replica Colt M1911 chambered in .45ACP. The 1911 is not quite a Hand Cannon in the 21st century, but when the story takes place (around two thousand years in the future), the standard firearm was a hand-held railgun that fired fast-moving darts. She only has the gun because she's an avid support of the Society of Creative Anachronisms [1]
  • Inverted in the Raymond Chandler novellas Trouble Is My Business and Red Wind. Both stories feature hard guys carrying .22 target pistols. As Chandler puts it: "This guy uses a twenty-two. He uses it because he's good enough to get by with that much gun. That means he's good."
  • Johannes Cabal the Necromancer uses a Webley .577 to insure that his victims stay dead. In his line of work, it certainly makes sense.
  • Eddie Chase in Andy McDermott's Wilde-Chase novels favours a .50 Wildey automatic, often being mocked by other characters for the overkill. Subverted in The Sacred Vault where he loses not one, but two Wildeys over the course of the story before even getting a chance to fire them.
  • Dr. Theophilus Algernon Tanner of the Deathlands adventure series and his always trusty Le Mat revolver. He's blown away many a "mutie" with the .63 caliber "grapeshot" round fired from the gun's underbarrel.

Live-Action TV

  • Deputy Jo Lupo from Eureka loves Hand Cannons, having an entire drop-down rack of them. When she administered the weapon familiarity test to the sheriff, he had to take it several times to pass.
  • Hammer's .44 Magnum in Sledge Hammer! is not only a blatant phallic symbol, it's the only thing keeping Hammer sane... well when he isn't talking to it... or sleeping with it.
  • Firefly: Jayne might be better known for his most favorite gun, but his one-handed death-dealing implements are not lacking either. (Nor is the quantity lacking.) In fact, the main sidearm that Jayne uses is a LeMat, a Civil War era revolver with 9 chambers, as well as a second barrel that can shoot buckshot. That's right, a revolver AND a shotgun.
    • Zoe's main sidearm is a "Mare's Leg," a cut-down Winchester 1892 carbine worn in a hip-holster.
    • Lots of people on Firefly have massive pistols. Jayne's estranged former partner in "Jaynestown" springs to mind.
    • Even Mal gets an honorable mention: his gun fires .303-caliber rifle rounds.
  • Bones acquires an extremely large handgun when she is being threatened by one of the villains of the week. It is clearly too large for her to handle, as shown in the Halloween episode when she fires it at a bad guy with a shotgun, she misses completely, and it knocks her back, so she gives it to Booth. Even he has trouble firing it successfully. But, boy, does it look threatening. Its ridiculous power eventually comes in handy when Booth uses it to shoot a bad guy through an inch-thick solid-steel door.
  • Stick-up artist and cat burglar Omar Little uses a Desert Eagle in HBO's The Wire, mostly to break "bulletproof" glass.
  • The Particle Magnum used by Ronon Dex in Stargate Atlantis. Given that later in the series, Rodney McKay easily beats him to the girl, I'd say he's compensating for something, except that he already had the magnum long before that.
  • Josh Randall's "Mare's Leg" in the series Wanted: Dead or Alive is a cut down Winchester 1892 Carbine, in a hip holster similar to that of Zoe above.
  • Parodied on SCTV with "Harry Filth" - a Dirty Harry-esque cop played by John Candy, who at one point carries a revolver that's much bigger than Harry himself.
  • Averted by Magnum, P.I.. You'd think a guy named Magnum would use one, but his primary weapon is a 1911 that turns into a Star Model B[2] when he fires it.

Tabletop Games

  • The oversized bolt pistols and SMGs of Warhammer 40,000 use .75 caliber rocket-assisted rounds. Don't forget the plasma pistols too. The space marine version even moreso, since it's designed for people who are at least eight feet tall and would require a tripod for a human to wield.
    • Dark Heresy has a pistol subtype that is actually named Hand Cannon. While not the most powerful sidearm in the game by any standard, it is fairly effective (especially when loaded with armor-piercing rounds) and its low price makes it attractive to players who can't afford a bolt pistol (there are plasma pistols and Inferno pistols as well, but they're so rare and expensive they only exist in the game to taunt you). Mechanically, it does marginally more damage than most handheld firearms and has at least some armor penetration even without improved ammo. Also, it has penalty for firing with one hand - half of that for rifle-sized weapons (the same goes for Carbine, but Hand Cannon uses Pistol [Solid Projectile] skill and Carbine still uses Basic [weapon type] skill). Has its uses, obviously, but noted to be mostly a Weapon for Intimidation.
    • There's also Hellpistol - a smaller version of Hellgun (high-powered, but less reliable type of laser weapon). Only twice as expensive as Handcannon, has greater rate of fire and very good armor penetration (better than standard bolts and more on par with plasma pistol). Of course, it's more of an agile main weapon good in close quarters, rather than a true sidearm: "smaller" here means that laser part is 4 kg rather than 6, but still cable-fed from the same 10 kg power pack (carried under a regular backpack), so there's that. It's not for showing off, it's for the times when you seriously expect something chitin-clad to jump out of bushes or debris and try to chew your face. Amusingly, this weapon still can be legitimately used akimbo (e.g. with belt powerpack under larger backpack/powerpack - 25 kg of batteries, 40+80 shots total). Though since dealing with threats that already got too close is the reason to carry a hellpistol rather than a full-sized hellgun in the first place, the standard usage is to complement it with a melee weapon which allows parrying.
      • Voss Pattern hellpistol - less powerful, but still has armor penetration as good as a heavy machinegun and can use common laspistol charge packs (drains them 4:1). There are also duel laspistols - almost as hot, accurate at longer ranges, but single-shot only.
  • The Shadowrun Eichiro Hatamoto II is a pistol that fires a single shotgun slug. It's recommended not to miss. Then there's the Remington Roomsweeper, which is kind of like a Sawed-Off Shotgun, except not. It's a pistol that fires shotgun slugs. It's noted that it's damn hard to fire.
  • Cyberpunk‍'‍s weaponry supplements have many examples of this, as they're intended for use by and against cyber-enhanced combatants. One of the most memorable is the 'Hellbringer,' a 3-round .666 caliber magnum revolver. There's also the Colt AMT, an eight-shot revolver that fires very large bullets. The caliber is not specified but it causes very high damage in-game.
    • Characters who have full body cybernetic conversions or are wearing powered armour can also carry firearms such as "assault rifles" chambered in .50 BMG or 14.5x114 RUS, as well as a 4 gauge autoshotgun and a 10 gauge, 6-barrel gatling shotgun with a back-mounted ammo hopper.
  • Subverted in Warmachine where many warcasters carry guns that are called Hand Cannons but which are no bigger than the setting's average handgun. Most of the time.
  • While Feng Shui gives us the standard hand cannons for the contemporary juncture, for those coming from the 2056 juncture, there's really only one gun worthy of Hand Cannon status—the Buro Godhammer, which fires .50 caliber rounds, has a five-round mag, and can be fired full-auto for even nastier damage (though you'll have to reload after).
  • Hong Kong Action Theatre actually calls the largest handguns Hand Cannons, which range from your standard .44 Magnum caliber boomers to out-there weapons out of a sci-fi movie.
  • Rifts has a fair number of large handguns, including a plasma Cartridge pistol with a bore two inches wide, weapons deliberately designed for large humanoids, and a laser pistol with its own under-slung Grenade Launcher.
  • The magnum pistol from GURPS: Ultra-Tech fires a 15mm round, larger than the bullets in a modern anti-materiel rifle. And then there's the shotgun pistol...
  • SLA Industries has the "Blitzer".
  • Mechwarrior, the tabletop RPG of the BattleTech wargame, has a number of fairly formidable weapons, but the game's nod to this trope is the Sternsnacht handgun. The original is described as a hunting rifle cut down to operate as a pistol, but the knockoffs put out by the companies hoping to cash in on the popularity of the original are large, noisy, extremely heavy for a sidearm (2.5 kg!), have hideous recoil that translates into penalties against the to-hit number, and worst of all, only carry three shots. This makes it a hugely impractical weapon even in spite of the damage it deals.
  • In Scion, Eric Donner, Scion of Thor, (one of the "canned characters" in the gamebooks) has as his signature weapon an oversized revolver called "Giantkiller." In addition to being a huge gun with oversized ammo (which has to have custom-made), thanks to his divine parentage, it can shoot lightning.

Video Games

  • Pretty much every revolver in Borderlands counts as this.
  • The M6 series of pistols in Halo is chambered for 12.7x40mm (necked-down .50 BMG) high explosive armor piercing rounds. Seems like overkill at first, perhaps, but against the Covenant, it might just be justified.
  • Killing Floor has Desert Eagles renamed "Hand Cannons".
  • In the Telltale seasons, Sam and Max have a huge revolver and Luger, respectively. This is probably to compensate for the fact that they weren't allowed guns in the TV show and "left them at the cleaners" in Hit the Road. Successfully complete the Hit the Road game however, and you get to watch Sam and Max amuse themselves by unloading on a carnival's BB gun shooting gallery with them.
  • Resident Evil games usually have a Magnum serving as one of the more powerful weapons. Ammo's rare and it's usually slow to fire, but they typically kill zombies, Hunters, Lickers, et cetera in one hit. Players often reserve their ammunition entirely for the boss fights as they tend to be the best weapons. Resident Evil 4 has an unlockable magnum that's actually called the Handcannon. The one that Barry is packing in the Resident Evil 1 Remake can drop the Tyrant's first form in one shot.
    • In Resident Evil 2, Leon gets the .50 caliber Desert Eagle, which is a one-hit kill to zombies and lickers, and a two-hit kill to anything else short of a boss. Apparently unsatisfied with this level of death, however, it's eventually customized with a ten-inch barrel that, in addition to one-hit killing everything short of a boss, damn near knocks Leon off his feet with each shot.
  • The weird, silent techno-zombie (or Deadman, as called in the series) Beyond the Grave in Gungrave wields not one, but two very large pistols called Cerberus (Left Head and Right Head, respectively). Heck, his frickin' coffin is a mobile weapons platform!
    • Then in Gungrave Overdose there's Fangoram who wields the massive "Center Head" which is bigger than both of them and fires what can only be described as small artillery rounds, and is strong enough to critically injure Grave to the point where his Regeneration powers can't close his wounds properly, leaving Grave in a near-comatose state for a while...until he snaps out of it by sheer force of will.
  • Carmelita Fox in the Sly Cooper games has her shock pistol, a huge red handgun firing bolts of electricity that kicks so hard she has trouble holding onto it when she shoots the thing. Some of the NPC guards can be seen brandishing these as well, either single or akimbo.
  • The pistol weapons in Mass Effect are rather large for a human being... but since the grip is intended to be large to allow a variety of species' hands to use it, we don't know what it's made of or how the technology would realistically act, it could very well be a Justified Trope.
    • In Mass Effect 2 one of the pistol type weapons is the literal the Carnifex Hand Cannon. Also justification of pistol size is simple, given how most of the weapons expand from a storage mode. Most of the weapon is air and light weight nano composites.
      • Also a very good weapon against armored opponents.
      • The Phalanx heavy pistol from the Firepower Pack DLC does it one better. Besides being a literal Sniper Pistol, the thing is positively enormous. When you have a chance take a good look at the thing in it's holster; It ends up looking positively ridiculous.
    • You can put together a pretty cool one in the first game with explosive rounds.
    • And in Mass Effect 3, not only do the Carnifex and Phalanx return, they're outdone by two new weapons. The Paladin is explicitly stated to be an even more powerful variant of the Carnifex, and the Talon is a shotgun revolver.
    • Also making an appearance in 3 is the Scorpion. It's one of the heaviest pistols in the game and fires Sticky Grenades.
  • Dead Space 2‍'‍s reward for completing its hardest difficulty is a weapon known as the hand cannon, which is in actuality your character using a Finger Gun inside of a foam finger and going "bang, bang" or "pew, pew" when you "fire." This causes the enemies to explode instantly.
  • Nero of Devil May Cry 4 has the Blue Rose, a customized Smith & Wesson Model 500 with barrels at the twelve and six o'clock positions of six-shot cylinder(normal M500s have five shots), which somehow fires both at once with a single hammer. He can fire it one-handed, and it can later be upgraded to have a Charged Attack that fires delayed-detonation high-explosive rounds.
    • On a similar note, Dante's signature pair of pistols LOOK like handcannons, but they're more like heavily customized Colt .45 M1911s. What gives them they're Handcannon status, however, is that the bullets fired by them are charged(and somehow reloaded) by Dante's power.
  • Masterminds with the Thugs powerset in City of Villains get a pair of large pistols.
  • Fallout has the .223 pistol - apparently a cut down .223 hunting rifle that's been "lovingly handcrafted" into a pistol. It looks suspiciously like Deckard's gun from Blade Runner, and .223 is almost never used to hunt with, but it's still a rifle round in a pistol package.
    • Justified in an odd way since the outer casing of the gun in Blade Runner is the lock section of a real .222 rifle.
    • The 14mm pistol also counts. There's some background info that explains before the end of the world that it was a hunting pistol.
      • And both return in Fallout: New Vegas - the 14mm (now 12.7mm) pistol is a bona fide Hand Cannon, boasting the highest damage of all semi-auto handguns, but the .223 pistol, AKA "That Gun" is a unique revolver with no common counterpart, actuated components, and still chambered for .223 (or more accurately, the .223's military counterpart, the 5.56x45mm NATO). New Vegas also introduces the Hunting Revolver, an oversized big bore revolver that shoots .45-70 Gov't rifle rounds. It's the most damaging non-unique handgun in the entire game. Its (semi) unique counterpart, the Ranger Sequoia, does even more damage. Honest Hearts introduces Joshua Graham's Ace Custom M1911, A Light Shining In Darkness. Despite being a small handgun that shoots quite fast, it is absolutely deadly, particularly the NPC version he uses.
  • The character Max in Tales of Eternia enters your party with a gun the size of a toaster oven that he wields one-handed. To repeat: that is his starting weapon. You should see what his best weapons look like.
  • In Case 3 of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, the victim is shot with a huge, 45-caliber revolver. The gun is described as being able to not only knock the target off their feet if hit with a shot from it, but capable of dislocating the shoulder of the shooter if they aren't used to firing such a powerful weapon. In appearance, it's described as "making normal revolvers look like water pistols", giving the impression that this is a huge (and very, very intimidating) weapon. Klavier even calls it a hand cannon at one point.
  • For some reason, the most powerful and second-most accurate gun in Half-Life 2 is a .357 Magnum. And this is with the futuristic pulse rifles and sniper-crossbows. Balanced by the high recoil, low rate of fire and small amount of ammunition Gordon can cary for it.
    • One of the Expansion packs, Opposing Force, gives the HECU marine protagonist the actual desert eagle.
  • In Killer7, the persona Dan Smith uses a Colt Python as his primary weapon. While this is large enough to qualify for this trope as is, he receives a mid-game upgrade: the Demon Gun, a double barreled, twelve-shell cylinder revolver, which appears to be larger than his head in several cut scenes. MASK goes one better by using a pair of cut-down grenade launchers.
  • Duke Nukem: the Manhattan Project has Duke start with a large handgun with a shiny gold finish.
  • The Star Wars: Empire at War Expansion Pack, Forces of Corruption, features Tyber Zann, leader of the corrupt fraction, who has a handgun that can blow away a whole squad of infantry.
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura has a weapon that the player can construct from parts called the Hand Cannon. It's a wooden grip, a trigger, and what looks to be at least an inch-wide barrel.
  • In Metal Gear Solid, Meryl stated that she picked up a Desert Eagle with the long barrel over the only fractionally more reasonable .45 SOCOM that Snake himself uses. Snake remarked that "It's an awfully big gun for a girl," and offered to trade guns. In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Liquid Ocelot has a .45-75 hand rifle that needs reloading after one shot, but when obtained as a bonus weapon for completing an emblem challenge, it one shots most PMC Mooks. Same on multiplayer.
  • Advent Rising introduces what is described as a handgun that fires ".90 calibre armour-piercing concussive rounds" and can be dual-wielded. Obtaining a good level of handgun skills allows protagonist Gideon to fire the weapon in rapid three-round bursts that can match the rate of fire of any machinegun in the game. This is trumped by an energy pistol powered by a miniature fusion generator which hits significantly harder and can still be dual-wielded. Better skill in with this handgun allows Gideon to fire grenades at the cost of more ammo. This is then matched by a Seeker energy pistol which, while it starts off weaker, can become stronger when Gideon learns the skill needed to fire hideously powerful rounds which can bounce between upwards of four enemies at the cost of extra ammo. This, too, can be dual wielded. About the only thing limiting total arm cannon carnage is ammo consumption.
  • Fefnir in Mega Man Zero has two. Justified as he was built as a heavy weapons specialist and is strong enough to do it.
  • The Sniper vs. Spy update for Team Fortress 2 brings us the Ambassador, an alternate revolver for the Spy which was initially touted as a Hand Cannon. In reality, though, the Ambassador is marginally weaker and slower than the standard revolver. Its true power comes from its near-perfect accuracy and ability to always crit with a headshot. In skilled hands, it lives up to the title of Hand Cannon; in unskilled hands, the standard revolver is just better.
  • The guns in the Disgaea series are all above average as far as size goes, but it's taken to a ridiculous extreme in Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten, where a giant monster unit can magichange into a handgun that's as big as the wielder. Considering that the wielder can't even reach the trigger, it seems logical to assume that the monster turned weapon is capable of firing of its own accord.
  • Any and all guns in Final Fantasy XII‍'‍s Ivalice, which more accurately resemble shotguns in size but are wielded and fired one-handed. Particularly noticeable in Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions, where Balthier's Ras Algheti is the size of his torso.
    • Fomalhaut's barrel in FFXII is roughly as thick as Vaan's arm.
    • Interestingly, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance has smaller guns, but also smaller wielders—they're used by a class only available to Moogles, the smallest playable species. Final Fantasy Tactics A2 reintroduces hand cannons as a separate weapon type from the small guns, making them available both to Moogles and to Bangaa.
  • The Culverin weapon in Final Fantasy XI, which actually looks more like a modern-day shotgun ingame, is unique in that it does not accept regular ammunition of any sort, instead opting for cannon shells that are significantly less efficient inventory-wise.
  • Vincent Valentine's Cerberus in Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII is a gigantic, aggressively ridiculously designed revolver with three cylinders, three hammers linked to one trigger and three barrels. Even with the normal barrel the weapon is the size of his own leg, and it can be fitted with an even sillier three-foot "sniper" barrel. His Infinity+1 Gun is the Death Penalty. In his earlier appearance in Final Fantasy VII, it looked like this, which is not quite a Hand Cannon. Come Dirge of Cerberus, and it looks like this.
  • In Super Robot Wars OG Saga: Endless Frontier, The Gunslinger Haken Browning's backup weapon is the Longtomb Special: a three-foot long revolver that he fires one-handed, left-handed, from the hip, with the right hand pulling the hammer. He will also sometimes fire Dual-Wield it along with his Assault rifle, which is naturally also fired one-handed. In his Limit Break, he uses the "Klondike Mode", turning it into a Wave Motion Gun with a lot of recoil.
  • Noel Vermillion in BlazBlue wields 2 guns the length or her arms. Though this is hardly the most absurdly oversized weapon in the game.
  • The strongest handgun in The Godfather: The Game is a "magnum" that already rivals the shotgun for power at both their first levels. You can upgrade it. Have fun. The sequel takes it to ridiculous lengths: You start with .357, upgrade to .44, then hit .50 and a real cash-purchased extra gives you .700.
  • In Saints Row, the in game version of the Desert Eagle is called the GDHC (God damn hand cannon).
  • Word of God says that Persona 3 villain Takaya's revolver is an S&W 500.
  • How could we get this far and not mention the Chaos Dwarf Hand Cannon of RuneScape?
    • The Hand Cannon is a literal example though, as it really is a cannon. That you can carry.
  • A better question: How is there no mention of Dungeon Fighter Online? The Launcher's preferred handgun of choice is two literal hand cannons! And they have a passive skill called "Hand Cannon Mastery," which increase the attack speed and damage of a hand cannon, which in turn fires by creating small, short-ranged explosions that can hit multiple enemies and ignores obstacles.
    • Using them is literally the only way a launcher can use the skill Cannonball, which shoots an orb of energy.
      • Did I forget to mention that it even lowers the MP required to use the Launchers other Big Freaking Guns?
  • In Super Mario RPG, one of Geno's final weapons is called the Hand Cannon. It's taken literally, as it's fired by Geno swinging his arms down and firing gigantic shells from his arms.
  • The Cougar Magnum in GoldenEye (which can even shoot through walls), and its Perfect Dark counterpart, the DY 357. Both sound like cannons, too.
  • Carnby's revolver in Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare.
  • Soldier of Fortune has the Silver Talon .44, an AKA-47 version of the Desert Eagle .44, that can blow a Mook's head clean off at ridiculously long range. And it's fired with only one hand.
  • Scarface the World Is Yours has the ol' Desert Eagle as its strongest handgun, which One Hit Kills most mooks.
  • S4 League gives us The Revolver. A giant handgun that uses shotgun 12-gauge ammo.
  • The House Of The Dead Overkill has G and Washington using these as their default guns - they're AMS' standard firearm, apparently.
  • 7.62 High Calibre has several, including the .357 Colt Python, the Garza 12.7mm (.50 caliber) revolver, and the .44 Desert Eagle. They tend to be significantly more powerful than any other handgun weapon, but severely hampered by lack of balance, slow firing, and small clip size. In most cases, a normal handgun (or small submachine gun) is more useful.
  • Septerra Core. Maya's gun.
  • Battlefield Heroes: The Royal army has Harry's Hand Cannon, which falls under the Pistol category.
  • The antagonists of the Modern Warfare series seem to favour this kind of pistol; Imran Zakhaev in Call of Duty 4 used a .50AE Desert Eagle, while General Shepherd in Modern Warfare 2 had a .44 Colt Anaconda.
  • All the handguns in the Syndicate remake, but especially the Bullhammer Mk II, a revolver firing .600. One upgrade option for that is the Magnetic Acceleration Rail, which gives it an impact profile, to directly quote the fluff, "such that it's often mistaken for cannon or explosive blasts in police investigations."
  • Grand Theft Auto: The Desert Eagle has appeared in the series since Vice City (albeit only cutscenes in that game only so far) and on, it is often regarded as being the most powerful hand gun in the series with great accuracy, making it one of the superior weapons.

Web Comics

  • Schlock Mercenary hung a Lampshade on this - Schlock hauls around BH-209 until the old one was destroyed and he couldn't get another as it was out of production, then got BH-250 - even bigger (19.5 kg), with forearm brace, but without reserve of gas that lets its smaller cousin work in vacuum for a while. Schlock calls this class of weapons "wristbreaker"; he and some other characters do fire these things with one hand, and thanks to Powered Armor, we have seen this done by a (not obviously augmented otherwise) human, too. Moreover, it's basically a handheld fusion thruster with recoil compensation, and when switched to "rocket mode" gives enough of thrust to let quarter-ton Schlock fly with a human passenger.
    • He often refuses an upgrade because the new weapon, despite being far more powerful, is smaller and lacks the ominous hum and intimidating glow at the business end. Schlock had to use a pair of the same AP-130 antimatter-powered guns once, and after seeing Murtaugh fire bigger AP-229 he decided he likes it, hum or not. Later she used it to "shoot a hole in the sky" - clear the path through an enormous thunderstorm by shorting shear layers from relatively safe distance of 8 km. But he still carries his piece. There's however a trade-off: annie-plants were detected and neutralized (often messily) by enemies more than once, but micro-fusion weapons, while somewhat capricious, so far were detected only along with all other metal and destroyed only via actual action or misuse. E.g. on Credomar the Toughs lost power in their flying tanks and their flying pants, but Schlock still had a pair of working thrusters.
      • Ezraene Venombrook after personal observation decides to unsubscribe from wherever she have read a review proclaiming AP-130 "a toy giving creatures with small hands an illusion of true firepower".
    • On the ballistic side, there's 15-mm Blattco "Clawhammer".
  • Chicanery character Mr. Saturn has a "Modified DeathCo Magnum", several times larger than the main characters and apparently a cross between a revolver and a GBE. Effects range from blowing heads apart to explosively atomising people and coating the surrounding area in blood.
  • Narbonic Antonio Smith the forensic linguist wields such a weapon.
  • Monica of Wapsi Square carries her grandfather's gun a few times, though she never fires it.

Web Original

  • Sycine Kiongozi in Ilivais X carries a 15mm pistol. It's capable of shooting down Espadas, though granted, they're fairly inexpensively made and small. Still, that's more indicative of a mounted anti-materiel cannon and not a handgun.
  • Huge guns by freddiew.
  • They abound in the Whateley Universe, from Loophole's .44 Magnum to the .50 caliber one-shot that Samantha Everheart used in "Ayla and the Birthday Brawl". Sam cut off the pistol grip so she could hide it under her bra inside her blouse. She could fire it accurately only because she has super-strength. Or there's the sixty pound anti-mutant weapon Captain Tilley wield in the same story.

Western Animation

  • Surely this exchange on The Simpsons is a potential trope namer:

McBain: "But Captain, I can't avenge my partner's death with this pea-shooter." He holds up a normal-sized pistol.
Captain: "I don't wanna hear it, McBain. Tha-that cannon of yours is against regulation. In this department we go by the book." (The Captain holds up the book of regulations. McBain draws his "cannon", a revolver bigger than his head, and fires it at the book. The book promptly disintegrates, along with a massive chunk of the wall behind it.
McBain: "Bye book!"

  • In Transformers Generation 1, Action Masters were Transformers who gave up the ability to transform in exchange for greater physical prowess and to be "more alive". Some felt the need to compensate further; Kick-Off, for instance, has a handgun with a barrel as long as his arm and as wide as his fist. Several others, like Krok, Rad, and Banzai-Tron, had partners who transformed into extensions of their guns, increasing their size and power dramatically. Kick-Off's own weapon can be enhanced by transforming his jetpack and attaching it, making it roughly the size of his entire body but still held in one hand. Meanwhile, Overrun normally pilots a helicopter, but it apt to tear off its primary weapon (which is freaking huge relative to his body; this is a very small helicopter, of course) and use it on foot.
  • Kaptain Skurvy's weapon of choice is a literal hand cannon, a miniaturized cannon he holds in one hand.

Real Life

  • Any of the various .50 caliber handguns.
  • Very early hand-guns really were, literal, "hand-cannons", merely reduced-size versions of early artillery weapons, with the same one-piece cast barrel-and-stock, and touch-hole ignition.
    • Even later when they used matchlocks (1600s or so) most weapons were at least .50 cal, often closer to .75 cal, since modern round sizes fired with black powder wouldn't go through armor.
  • Later, there was the "howdah pistol", a double-rifle elephant gun with the barrel and stock reduced in size to make it holdable, if not sensibly fireable, in one hand. It was said that the sensible way to employ one, should a tiger leap up your elephant toward the howdah in which you were standing, was to hand the giant double-barreled pistol to the tiger and allow him to fire it.
  • Magnum Research, designers of the infamous Desert Eagle, also manufacture the "BFR." They claim this stands for "Biggest, Finest Revolver," but I think we all know what it really stands for.
  • The Pfeifer Zeliska revolver: a handgun chambered for the .600 Nitro Express, traditionally an elephant-gun round. It's not a production model, being hand-made individually; purchasing one will cost over $16,000 and the .600 Nitro Express rounds alone go for $40 each. (If you don't want that, it can also chamber the .460 Win. Mag. round.) It weighs 13 pounds unloaded and is over 21 inches long in total. Oddly, the sheer weight of the beast is in fact what makes it anywhere near practical as a weapon: the recoil of even a .600 round isn't enough to make something that massive fly around. Also, it's the gun in the page picture.
  • There's also a .700 Nitro Express round, currently languishing unloved; it's only a matter of time before a handgun is designed around it.
  • The Maadi-Griffin .50 pistol and the Thunder .50 pistol: handguns designed to use the .50 BMG cartridge, one of the most powerful rifle cartridges in current use. For comparison, the muzzle energy of the .50 BMG round is typically around ten times that of the NATO 5.56mm round used in most modern assault rifles. They are single-shot, but the main practical purpose, apparently, is demonstration of recoil compensation solutions used in heavier weapons.
  • Olympic Arms marketed a "pistol" that could fire NATO standard 5.56mm rounds; it bore a passing resemblance to the Mauser C96 and was basically an M16 receiver wedded to a short barrel and a pistol grip. In any realistic sense it was a carbine, however, since it fired a rifle round.
    • Kel-Tec also makes a 5.56mm/.223 pistol called the PLR-16, which accepts M16 magazines, although it isn't designed around the AR-15, but rather Kel-Tec's own SU-16 rifle.
  • The Nerf Brand Maverick chambers darts only slightly longer than the usual ammunition, but the gun itself is big enough to make Dirty Harry blush. That said, even standard Nerf darts are bigger than much pistol bullets.
  • The Thompson/Center Contender can fire shotgun shells or various full-power rifle rounds. In fact it's so much like a rifle that when outfitted with the optional stock and longer barrels that T/C sells it basically is a rifle.
  • During an episode of his series Lock and Load, R. Lee Ermey showed why standard shooting positions are standard. While test firing a .44 Magnum, he was nearly knocked to he floor by the recoil. He then was shown saying he didn't want to shoot it again. This being the same person who had picked up and fired a crew-served machine gun in his arms to prove it could be done. Hand cannon indeed.
  • The current record-holder (according to the manufacturer) for most powerful production (see the Pfeifer Zeliska, above) hand-cannon is the Smith & Wesson Model 500, a 5-shot revolver with an 8-3/8" barrel (15 inches long in total) that weighs six pounds empty. In a demonstration on Spike TV's Manswers, the .357 Magnum blew a chunk out of a watermelon; the .44 Magnum took off the lower three-quarters; and the Model 500 exploded it. Due to a compensator on the barrel, however, its recoil is actually less than the .44 Magnum - though that's not saying much.
  • The four-pound Colt Walker and Dragoon models were outrageously oversized to their smaller cousins brought into production a few years later.
    • The popular story is that the Colt Walker and the later Dragoon were designed so that once ammo had been spent, the gun would still be useful to club people and horses while wielded one-handed (the other hand on your horse reins.
  • The Le Mat Revolver, in addition to a nine-chambered cylinder and a regular barrel, has a central shotgun barrel, fired by a special pivoting striker, hence the name "Grapeshot Revolver". The largest ammunition it can use is .44 and one 16ga round. As you can imagine, this is a very big pistol.
  • Any LEGO handgun. The revolver, which is the smallest, is the size of a minifig's arm.
  • The sawn-off Mosin-Nagant. As in, a powerful 7,62x54mm rifle cut down to pistol size.
  • This 20mm (.79 caliber) Derringer. And a 30mm derringer is in planning according to the site. Since 20mm is considered to be the point where you start calling it an "autocannon" rather than a "machine gun", those literally are "hand cannons".
  • The Taurus Judge, a 5-shot .45 Colt revolver that just happens to have a cylinder long enough to let it fire .410-gauge shotgun shells.
    • A later variant is the larger and longer Taurus Raging Judge, which can load the more powerful.454 Casull rounds as well as the .45 Colt and .410.
    • Smith & Wesson responded by making the Governor a 6-shot revolver that took .45 Colt and .410 shells like the Judge but also (via use of moon clip) .45 ACP, and wasn't made by Taurus (Taurus has a well deserved reputation for poor build quality).
  • There are a few images of a sawn-off M1 Garand floating around the internet.
  • Legally in the US if a firearm is rifled and has no shoulder stock and only one vertical grip it is a pistol.
  1. which in Real Life is an organization that likes to recreate the Medieval and Renaissance-era lifestyle "The Way It Should Have Been"
  2. In the 1980s film production struggled to make .45 ACP blanks work but had no such problems with 9mm blanks so the Star Model B, a 9mm clone of the 1911, often stood in for a real 1911